An NHS free at the point of use could soon be a thing of the past, officials warn

 

A National Health Service free at the point of use will soon be "unsustainable", if the political parties do not come forward with radical plans for change before the 2015 election, top health officials have warned.

Stagnant health spending combined with ever rising costs and demand mean the NHS is facing "the most challenging period in its 65-year existence", the NHS Confederation said, as the membership body that brings together all NHS providers launched its 2015 Challenge.

In a frank assessment of the dangers faced by the health service, senior officials at the confederation say that the two years following the next general election will be pivotal in deciding whether the NHS can continue to provide free health care for all patients.

"Treasury funding for the service will be at best level in real terms," they write. "Given that demand continues to rise, drugs cost more, and NHS inflation is higher than general inflation, the NHS is facing a funding gap estimated at up to £30bn by 2020."

They argue that the NHS must change from a health service designed to address the "needs of the 1960s", with a focus on hospital care and treatment of acute illness and injury, into a service better equipped to look after people with long-term conditions, with a focus on community care.

"Undertaking … change is significantly easier in the two years after a general election, rather than the two before," they add.

"If we do not achieve a post-election drive for change it is very possible the current basis of the NHS free for all at the point of need will become unsustainable in the future," they conclude.

Matt Tee, the NHS Confederation's chief operating officer, said the NHS had not done enough to warn of the looming crisis before the 2010 election and must not let another opportunity pass without making the case for change.

"If any of the parties go into the next election saying very little about health, then the NHS and the public should say: 'We've got a problem here and you're not addressing it,' " he said.

The coalition government and Labour Party both accept the need for closer links between the NHS and social care services for the elderly and adults with long-term health needs, the latter predominately provided by local authorities.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We know we are facing challenging times. Our priority is to deliver better care and a more sustainable NHS. That is why we have set out bold and radical steps to transform the way out-of-hospital care is delivered. Through more proactive primary care and better integration of health and social care, people will be better supported in their homes and get the treatment they need in the best place for them.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

    Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

    £10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

    £17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

    £32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis